13th April 2012
Grand National Betting: Planet Of Sound to give Hobbs and Johnson National glory
4.15 Aintree: John Smith’s Grand National Chase (Grade 3) (4m4f)
We finally come round to the big race of the three day Aintree Festival, The Grand National with its maximum field of 40 runners over 30 fences stretching over 4 miles and the race every jockey wants to have on his CV. In recent years the race has become more of a top quality handicap and we only have one horse running from out of the weights, gone are the days of the half a dozen 500/1 outsiders with little chance of completing never mind winning the thing and it’s probably one of the competitive line ups in the history of the race.
Bookmakers have Synchronised as the favourite and he’s an 8/1 chance with Betfred, the Jonjo O’Neill trained 9yo bids to win the National and the Gold Cup in the same year which would be a magnificent achievement and will have to do it off top weight. It’s a tall ask for the gutsy son of Saddler’s Wells but with AP McCoy on board he must have every chance.
Many people will have their own favourites in the line up and one that the locals will get behind is Ballabriggs who won the race last year for Donald McCain and Jason Maguire. He’s 10lbs higher now twelve months on and the race looks as warm so he too has it all to do but if a horse takes to these fences they can improve time and time again so you just can’t write him off.
With 40 runners and the majority of them with ability to win on their best form it’s pointless trying go through them all here so including the two already mentioned I have a short list of six horses who I think can play a part in the Worlds most exciting Steeplechase.
First on the list is Planet Of Sound, for a start he’s well handicapped having been rated as high as 166 and comes here 10lbs lower, his trainer Philip Hobbs is in cracking form and we have seen this week the resurgence of Menorah and Wishful Thinking. He jumps really well and his second in the Hennessy shows he stays well and wont mind the ground.
My next one is Junior from the David Pipe yard; he ran a cracking prep race at Doncaster last time out when second to the improved Ikorodu Road. He’s a versatile sort and has already won at Royal Ascot on the flat and at the Cheltenham Festival and the stable know what it takes to win this race, he runs of a career high mark of 153 but is due to go up 5lbs so in effect is well in with the handicapper.
Alan King runs West End Rocker, he’s a fresh horse having had 133 days off after his impressive win here over the National fences in December. He looked a natural that day and is only 8lbs higher than running in this last year when he was brought down at Bechers first time round. Many people think he wants soft ground to show his best but has won plenty of races on good ground.
Evan Williams is having a good season and he has been placed in the race on a few occasions with State Of Play without ever looking likely to win it, maybe this year he has the horse to go that extra step and Cappa Bleu is interesting. Only three starts this season and won well at Haydock on his seasonal reappearance. He was then third to Le Beau Bai in the Welsh National in heavy ground that wouldn’t have suited and was third at Ascot in February. He comes here relatively fresh and on the same mark as his Chepstow run so can certainly win off 147.
I think any of the six mentioned could win this years National but if I was to pick three to bet on I would side with Planet Of Sound, West End Rocker and Cappa Bleu.
1pt EW Planet Of Sound 40/1 Boylesports
1pt EW Cappa Bleu 16/1 Bet365
1pt Win West End Rocker 14/1Paddy Power
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Author: Ray Singpost